Judge denies request for mistrial in Austin Hopkins case; sentencing set for Wednesday

Judge denies request for mistrial in Austin Hopkins case; sentencing set for Wednesday
John Austin Hopkins (FILE MUGSHOT)

LEBANON — A Warren County judge denied a request submitted by the defense of Austin Hopkins seeking a mistrial in the case on the grounds of juror misconduct.

Hopkins, a former gym teacher at Springboro schools was found guilty March 14 on 34 of the 36 charges of gross sexual imposition after jurors deliberated for around 11 hours.

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Hopkins’ defense filed a motion May 18, seeking a mistrial in the case due to possible juror misconduct. According to court records, defense lawyers claimed an unknown individual make a Facebook post, claiming they had information from a juror while the jury was deliberating.

The original Facebook post was deleted by the administrator of the Springboro-related page and the defense was not able to submit a copy of the original post, court documents show. However, the defense attempted to submit a string of Facebook comments as evidence that jurors were communicating with outside individuals during deliberations.

Court records show the judge was notified of the Facebook post during deliberations and had a bailiff check, and confirm, that no communication devices were present in the jury room. All electronic devices, including phones, tablets, and smart watches were previously confiscated and were not in the room.

Warren County Judge Robert Peeler said in his decision Monday that the motion for a mistrial to be declared and a new trial to be set had been denied because
the evidence supplied by the defense was insufficient to their request.

Hopkins is set to be sentenced Wednesday afternoon.